Adding layers of discontent

July 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm 1 comment

disaffected youth small

So all unemployed young people are going to be offered training, a work placement, or a job. If they refuse they will have their benefit cut.

Great stuff eh! This will help with the rising problems of youth unemployment – a growing number of disaffected youth forced into doing jobs, training or work placements they don’t want to do.

30 years ago I ran a similar government scheme (shows my age), intended to deal with the problems of rising youth unemployment, called the ‘Youth Opportunities Scheme’ or YOP.

The scheme I ran was in the Black Country and with 2 other colleagues we ran three coordinated schemes in creative writing, photography and magazine design and production. Each scheme fed the others and resulted in the publication of a monthly young people’s topical magazine called ‘The first real headache’.

The content of the magazine included topical articles, interviews with famous people and others in the community, cartoons, photographs, competitions, reviews etc. and was produced wholly by the young people themselves with guidance from us.

These were 16 year olds and in order to gather the materials for the magazine they had to go out into community to conduct interviews, get photographs etc. for the publication. We trusted them to do this responsibly and allowed them to undertake these activities without supervision. Without exception they returned our trust and did a fantastic job. It was a really good magazine.

Then the day arrived when the men in suits arrived to make a spot inspection. It happened that a number of the young people were out in the community undertaking various tasks for the magazine. The suits were appalled that we allowed them to go out there without close and constant supervision.

They were not in the least bit interested in the quality of the magazine the young people were producing, or that they had always shown themselves to be wholly responsible. All they were interested in was that the kids should be ‘contained’.

(In 1983 the Youth Opportunities Schemes were renamed Youth Training Schemes presumably in recognition of the fact that they offered no opportunities at all).

And it’s happening again. This is a containment policy, a pretence that something real is being done for young people. Actually the opposite is happening. By requiring young people to do things that they may not want to at all they are they are ensuring that these kids move further away from their own natural inclinations and aspirations the development of which the education system is supposed to deliver.

Michelangelo said that his statue of David was not created by him, but already existed in the stone. His task was merely to remove those parts of the stone that were not David. This awful containment policy being introduced will simply have the effect of adding more layers of discontent leaving young people further from their essence than ever. It’s a disgrace.


Entry filed under: Kids, Training, Youth.

Let’s not wait until the iceberg melts Education! We just gotta get radical.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Pete Burden  |  July 18, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    A teacher friend of mine sometimes says that much education is containment.

    Teachers babysit our children in primary and secondary education for much of the time – meaning we as parents don’t need to.

    This initiative sounds like a continuation of the same process.


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Mick Landmann on education, digital technology, and the 21st century

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